16 Jun Why do we warm up and cool down with exercise?
Do you play any winter sports? Warming up and cooling down is very important!
Warming up allows the muscle fibres to gradually increase load into them and stretch which allows the muscles to become ready to take a higher volume of strain or pressure into the body when performing your sport or gym work. This can prevent pulling muscles during your session and getting injured.
It also gives time for the body to gradually increase your heart rate and pump the blood to sufficiently to the muscles that will be activated.
Try setting aside 10 minutes at least for your warm up.
Cooling down is important for lowering your bodies heart rate and allowing the muscles to be flushed from lactic acid. It helps prevent muscle tightness and allows your muscle to sufficiently relax before going back into a more sedentary stage. Try setting aside 5-15 minutes for your cool down depending on the level of intensity of your main work.
Depending on what sport/activity you do will depend on the type of warm ups exercises you include.
For example :
– Explosive sports such as Netball, Basketball and Rugby require quick movement and sharp activation in the legs in particularly.
A warm for these sports could look like this…
1. 5 minute light jog
2. Hip circles both ways in standing
3. 20 Walking/light jog knee lifts and butt kicks
4. 15-20 squats – progressing to jumping squats for last 5
5. 10-15 walking lunges
6. 10-15 ankle raises
7. Leg kicks – forward and back (supported by a wall)
8. 10-15 Side jumps
9. Arm circles both ways
– Sports that require more strength engagement like weightlifting/crossfit and general gym use require more flexibility and activation of stability muscles. Below is an example of a warm up for this type of activity, once done and progressing onto weights make sure your first set is 50-60% of the weight you are comfortable doing to get correct form and activation before increasing your load.
1. 5 minute light jog/ cycle or row
2. 15-20 Side walking squats – monster walks (with or without band)
3. 15-20 Bridges
4. 8 Single leg bridges
5. Arm circles or mobility with wooden pole overhead reaches/figure of 8s
6. 10 on each side Lunge to high knee
7. 15 Pullbacks with band (Using a power band/theraband and taking arms up to shoulder height then pulling them wide)
In terms of cool downs if you workout was intense where the muscles and/or heart rate was worked to above your threshold for a substantial period of time (more than 10/15minutes) a longer cool down would be recommended.
To start your cool down start with a gentle walk or cycle around 5 minutes or until your heart rate is able to drop under 50-60% of your max (roughly 105/90)- this can take longer if you had a more intensive workout.
Then move onto some light stretches, aiming to hold for around 20-30 seconds for example:
– Lunge forwards letting back knee drop onto floor and stretch hips
– Sitting on floor with legs out straight and slowly lean forwards and stretch back of legs
– Lie on back, bending both knees with feet on floor, and take one foot onto your opposite knee, push that knee out wide and stretch hips
– Standing take one foot behind the other and keep heels on floor, lean forward and stretch calves
– Taking one foot up to buttocks and holding with hand to stretch front of thighs.
Most importantly, if you do feel pain when exercising and it is not a ‘good’ pain stop and come have a chat with one of us, we are happy to help and hopefully this can prevent longer standing injuries from occurring. Usually the quicker you get something seen to the better the outcome.